Darrel Morrison and the “Native Flora Garden” in Brooklyn

Congratulations to landscape architect Darrel Morrison, a friend to many designers here in Chicago who have known him since he taught at the University of WI Madison, for a wonderful article about his new native-to-NY-area garden at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden [BBG]. Read the article here:


Darrel was starting this garden when I had the opportunity to visit our daughter, Danielle, in Manhattan in 2011. Darrel and I went to dinner and he told me about the fun of going with BBG Curator Uli Lorimer to discover rare plants at the pine barrens in New Jersey, for example. Taking seed from these plants and then assuring their success in Brooklyn meant engineering duplicate soils [isn’t that amazing?], a story broadly told in the article.

Darrel Morrison has had a celebrated career, specializing in native plants. He is a classic landscape architect–on his kitchen table, I saw hand-colored drawings he was preparing for a fabulous Montana ranch. Computer drawings are just not the same as hand drawn, n’est-ce pas?

A hand-drawing by Darrel Morrison

A hand-drawing by Darrel Morrison

Darrel Morrison

Darrel Morrison

Morrison’s re-design and expansion of the Native Flora Garden builds on a 100 year old habitat. When it was first opened in 1911, “groves of trees and shrubs were planted to create genuine woodland conditions through the gradual maturation of the woody plants; at the south end, wildflower beds were laid out in systematic fashion—that is, arranged according to plant family and evolutionary relationships.” By the 1920’s, the garden was re-designed to become one of the first ecologically themed native plant gardens of its kind in the U.S. It highlighted nine plant communities found in the Northeast: serpentine rock, dry meadow, kettle pond, bog, pine barrens, wet meadow and stream, deciduous woodland, limestone ledge, and coniferous forest. Read more about it: http://www.bbg.org/discover/native_flora_garden_expansion

Here are some photos I took in Fall, 2011 at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. What I like about it is the feeling of “age” in all the hard-scape and in the mature trees…

I am not sure what public garden in Chicago is comparable to the Native Flora Garden in Brooklyn. Please let me know if you know the answer.##

Posted on by weedpatchgazette in Conservation and Ecology, Gardeners & Designers, Landscape Architecture, Public Gardens and Parks, Uncategorized

2 Responses to Darrel Morrison and the “Native Flora Garden” in Brooklyn

  1. Arthur H. Miller

    I should think that the Morton Arboretum, evolved out of the century-old Joy Morton estate in Lisle, would be similar in many ways to this Brooklyn/NYC-area native garden. Certainly it would look very different, reflecting a different plant-palette. But with OC Simond’s planning and oversight by landscape architect Tony Tyznik, etc. over many years, continuity would be noticeable. Another neat regional collection would be the Bristol, WI, country place of the late Alfred Caldwell, dating back to the 1930s. IIT is supposed to be trying to acquire these forty acres of natural heaven.

  2. Diane Garey

    A film focusing on Darrel Morrison’s work, “Designing in the Prairie Spirit” can be seen at

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